Cheeky Cafe

May 24, 2015

Waiting in line for brunch is the thing most likely to make me hangry so I was pleased at the number of open tables at the Cheeky Cafe in the Central District Sunday at noon. This friendly little cafe has a pretty interesting menu – you can get a Hawaiian breakfast of loco moco or spam and eggs, or do the more traditional American breakfasts. I got a “Cheeky Cake” which is basically a giant pancake with the filling of your choice – I went with sliced bananas:

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Yes, yes, yes! Perfect start to my day, and I loved that I could just get a single one to avoid the total food coma that would have come with a full order. Their other pancake fillers were intriguing, especially the green tea… I’ll have to come back and try them all. Nothing beats dessert for breakfast.

Uptown Espresso

May 24, 2015

I stopped by the Uptown Espresso location in Belltown because I was in the area and needed a pick-me-up, but I was pleasantly surprised to see an array of baked goods made at their Queen Anne location. I went with some favorites (one banana bread, which is a favorite snack of mine) and a peanut butter cookie (the barista’s favorite).

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I’d say the barista was spot-on with his cookie recommendation. The cookie was not mushy or crackly crunchy, but was in between. Tender but textured with excellent flavor. The banana bread was good as well, but the cookie was the one worth returning for.

Chocolat Vitale

April 25, 2015

Seeing as how April in Seattle has been about as cold as February, I thought I’d take myself out for some hot chocolate at Chocolat Vitale in Phinney Ridge. Oops, did I say hot chocolate? I meant drinking chocolate, of course! The difference is in thickness – drinking chocolate is a much thicker, richer version of hot chocolate… and therefore better. This little chocolate/beverage cafe does it right, complete with steamed milk and your choice of chocolate.

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I chose the darkest available, a dark cocoa from Venezuela (you can also get it as a mocha, which I imagine would be divine).  The owner disappeared into the back and returned a few minutes later with a steaming, foamy, and incredibly chocolatey cup:

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I also got one of her own chocolates (most of hers are imported from Europe) – a dark chocolate nut cluster. It was good, but the true highlight was indeed the drinking chocolate, which was electrifying and comforting at the same time. It had a deep, complex flavor, and easily satisfied my chocolate cravings for the day. In case you were wondering, the drink can also be ordered cold – so I’ll be stopping by again this summer!

Intrigue Chocolates

April 20, 2015

Fran’s and Theo’s chocolates are easy to come by in Seattle, but if you’re in the mood for more of an adventure (and to me, a trip to Pioneer Square is always an adventure), check out Intrigue Chocolates. It’s hardly a chocolate shop – more like a kitchen where you can sample and buy what they’re making. Aaron, the owner and chocolatier in chief, will share generous samples and explain the process for eating an Intrigue ganache truffle: don’t chew it, let it melt in your mouth!

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If you’re lucky, he’ll also let you try the “zombie” mixture – they basically melt down all the unused chocolates (all different flavors) and pop it in the fridge until it hardens back into a ganache – with every bite a different flavor. I walked away with a sampler (note, these must be kept refrigerated):

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My favorite flavors were Jamaican Hot Chocolate, Basil, and Earl Grey. You can expect strong flavors along with the obvious love and care that goes into the chocolates. I highly recommend stopping by – they’re open Saturdays until 4 PM and it’s fun just finding the place, which is tucked away up a staircase and down a hall. Make it an adventure.

Lunchbox Lab

April 11, 2015

When the sun’s out, I want ice cream – or better yet, a milkshake. I’ve loved milkshakes since I was a kid, but adult milkshakes (AKA boozy shakes) are even better. There are several places in Seattle that will give you a quality boozy shake (Hot Cakes being my personal fave) but nothing beats the variety at Lunchbox Lab.  A chill restaurant to being with – they have excellent burgers and bomb tater tots – it only gets better with their grown-up shakes.

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Did I mention the variety? I got the banana cream milkshake with vanilla rum. This satisfied both my love of banana desserts and my love of milkshakes. Oh and my love of alcohol. I’ve also had a very satisfying Oreo milkshake with whiskey.  My friend got a Nutella milkshake with I-forget-what-tasty shot:

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She sucked hers down – I took longer to finish. I’m usually good with half a milkshake, but I couldn’t let the rest of mine go to waste!  Lunchbox Lab has an epic happy hour and pleasant outdoor seating with a fire pit. And they’re open late! Definitely on my “most beloved” Seattle restaurant list.

Yellow Leaf Cupcake

April 5, 2015

I’ve been eating Trophy Cupcake and Cupcake Royale for years, yet strangely I’d never made it to Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co in Belltown. In addition to cupcakes, this cute “micro-bakery” makes gourmet macarons and cookies in addition to pulling an excellent espresso. I loved the flavors of the macarons, the most exciting (to me) being the Samoa flavor – if you’re familiar with the Girl Scout cookie you’ll know what I mean.

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I got the last one! It was light as air, and while it obviously didn’t have the crunch and texture of a Samoa it did have the flavor! Next, I selected a couple cookies, which are giant-size and also come as cookie sandwiches with buttercream as the filling.

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The sugar cookie on the right, while pretty, didn’t impress me as much as the peanut butter cookie, which was rich without being overly sweet, and intensely peanutty (a good thing, in my book). One of the best peanut butter cookies I’ve had in this lifetime, although I admit I scraped off some of the frosting because it was so rich. Lastly, and most telling, the cupcakes.

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On the left is the peanut butter banana cupcake (which was somewhat disappointing in that it tasted like a vanilla cupcake with some peanuts in it) and on the right, the pancakes and bacon cupcake… yes please!!! Once again, I scraped off most of the frosting – I am NOT a buttercream person, but if you are you’ll love it. The cake portion itself was the best I’ve had – no kidding. It really did taste like pancakes, and there were chunks of crispy bacon in it!!! Love this. A definite must-try for Seattleites and visitors alike.

Biscuit Box

March 18, 2015

Food trucks can be hard to track down, so I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon Biscuit Box last week in South Lake Union at lunchtime (not to be confused with the Seattle Biscuit Company, which is another biscuit food truck… that’s my kind of traffic jam). The Biscuit Box has two sides, sweet and salty – literally, the menus are on opposite sides of the window:

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Well you can guess which side I went for (although the pork belly biscuit sandwich sounds like it deserves a return visit)! I chose the buttermilk biscuit with butter and strawberry freezer jam. I was surprised by the way they serve it – a buttered biscuit with a generous ladle of strawberry syrup-jam.

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Yes, you have to eat it with a fork. Yes, it tastes amazing. It ends up being almost like strawberry shortcake, except no cream, and it’s a biscuit instead of shortcake… ok, so it’s different, but the idea is the same: the jam soaks into the biscuit.  I will be back to try the savory options – thank you twitter for giving me the means to stalk this biscuity goodness.

Nollie’s

February 22, 2015

South Lake Union is booming, and Nollie’s Cafe is taking full advantage of the breakfast and lunch market (amidst the plentiful construction). I stopped in on a recent Monday for some breakfast and coffee (it’s good) but I left with much more, as you can see from the picture below.

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That’s a peanut butter pie on the left. The three cookies on the right are chocolate, peanut butter, and hibiscus. The bar is a pecan fudge concoction. The highlights were the cookies, especially the hibiscus (not sure what hibiscus is supposed to taste like, but this was a darn good sugar cookie regardless. Also on my take-home menu were the “mini cinnamon buns” (the word mini always makes me feel less guilty about eating cinnamon buns, even if there are four of them…

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Heated up, these were perfectly gooey and soft. And although it looks like a lot of icing, it wasn’t overly sweet. I recommend eating one (or 4) with an espresso in the cute little dining nook:

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Service was friendly and the place was popular without being super crowded. You can tell they make everything from scratch, and the dessert selection was excellent (I made the mistake of choosing my goods before noticing there was a whole ‘nother display case around the corner). Stop in and get your cookies!

3.14

February 12, 2015

You don’t have to love math to enjoy 3.14, a bakery in White Center, but it does help if you like pie. Which I do. It was a bit of a drive from Cap Hill, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the homey bakery. You’re not overwhelmed by the selection of baked goods, but there were plenty to choose from – and not just pie.

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The owner was friendly and patient, and it was nice to be the only hipster in sight.  I took my time and chose a couple cake balls, a blueberry muffin top, and a cherry mini-pie.

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The red velvet cake ball (bottom left) didn’t do it for me, but the chocolate peanut butter one was everything a cake ball should be – dense, moist, almost like a truffle. It had strong peanut flavors and the chocolate was rich. As for the muffin top (top of the picture), I had never seen such a thing! Who would just sell tops of muffins? After eating it, I see why it’s a thing. It’s like a mini cookie-cake for breakfast! It was fresh-tasting and not at all dry, even the next day. No bitter aftertaste either, just flour and blueberry goodness.

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The cherry pie was the winner. I don’t even love pie, especially cherry, but the owner recommended it. And I’m converted. I warmed it up two days later in the oven, and it tasted fresh, flaky, and buttery. The cherry filling wasn’t too sweet or too tart, and there was just the right ratio of filling to crust. This might be my new favorite pie. I just wish they were closer. 3.14, come to Cap Hill, or at least do some farmers markets!

Grand Central Bakery

February 4, 2015

I usually stay away from chains, even small regional ones like Grand Central Bakery (with locations in Portland and Seattle). But I’d heard good things about Grand Central, and I’d always admired their outdoor space in Eastlake. So I took advantage of the abnormally warm, sunny January weather last weekend and chowed down on some treats while soaking up the vitamin D.

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No, I didn’t eat all of them myself. But I probably could have… Pictured above, from the upper left clockwise: chocolate (gluten-free) cookie, peanut butter cookie, oatmeal raisin cookie, brioche cinnamon roll, donut muffin, “jammer,” and bread pudding muffin.  I was pleasantly surprised by all of the above, especially the peanut butter cookie, donut muffin, and jammer. The donut muffin was exactly what it sounds like and would be perfect with coffee. The jammer to me was the most interesting – it was like a scone with jam in the middle and is perfect for breakfast.


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